by Alessandra Izzo aka Ally Cat
The pole community has been rocked a few times recently with incidents involving bullying from one or more of our members towards another.
While I do believe that anyone who engages in bullying or nastiness has probably got a bunch of their own demons they are fighting with, and in many ways need to be dealt with compassionately – I think we can all agree that there should be a zero tolerance policy when we see this kind of behaviour.
It’s probably somewhat idealistic to imagine our little magical pole bubble won’t experience rifts, animosity, jealousy, or resentment at times. Fortunately, bullying in our community seems to be quite rare – and most of us enjoy exceptional amounts of love and support from the community at large. However, when it comes to public displays of ‘mean girl’ tactics nobody should be afraid to stand up and call it out – no matter whether it comes from a beginner poler or a well-regarded polebrity.
Recently, a situation occurred in the US where a poler made a public Facebook post about her grievances with a very high profile polebrity. This resulted in an avalanche of abuse towards that polebrity, and in the end much of it was tantamount to trolling. People were jumping on the bandwagon just to tear someone down. In the end it wasn’t about the original grievance. It became a pile-on that was less about any legitimate issue and more about people wanting to make another person feel shit.
There have been examples too (both in the past and very recently) of high profile polers publicly abusing or insulting other pole dancers on social media.
Ultimately, we can never control how someone else behaves. However, we can control our response to that behaviour.
Firstly, congratulations to anyone who has stood up and called out incidences of bullying. While witnessing this kind of behaviour can understandably make you mad, the best way to respond is by naming the behaviour exactly what it is – unprofessional, unbecoming, and uncalled for – and avoid using aggressive or abusive language in response. Also, rather than focusing on what has been said, throwing support behind the recipient of the abuse will give the bully no ammunition.
Furthermore, while there can be no limit to the amount of support needed behind the recipient of bullying, too much “calling out” aimed at the bully can begin to escalate into a pile on. If you see that several others have already shut down the words of the bully, try to keep your messages positive and geared towards the recipient of the abuse.
Beyond this, if you are a studio owner, pole business owner, or event organiser, you are in a unique position to send a message to any high profile poler you see engaging in bullying behaviour. People who are known to be mean and aggressive in their dealings with others within the community still rely on opportunities given to them via workshops, sponsorships, judging or guest performing. The best way to send a clear message is by blacklisting anyone who behaves in a manner that is unacceptable.
While I stand by my earlier statement about bullies having their own demons, and compassion is key – it is still necessary for them to learn that if they make their bed, they will need to lay in it.